My Fulbright Experience: Jamison Kovach
I am the PMI Houston Endowed Professor in Project Management at the University of Houston. My research investigates the use of methods for product and process innovation, expanding the use of these methods, and developing new improvement approaches. My work is largely focused on working in partnership with industry applying process improvement/design methods to solve problems.
I received a Fulbright US Scholars award to work in Lisbon, Portugal for three months, hosted by ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (IUL) in their Business Research Unit. My Fulbright project, “Leveling Up: Enhancing Portugal’s Achievement of Industrial Performance Improvements,” consisted of action research investigations conducted within four Portuguese companies in which researchers (i.e., faculty and master’s students embedded within the organizations) worked closely with organizational representatives to examine a pressing problem (e.g., excessive process cycle time, numerous defects/errors, poor customer satisfaction) and worked together to implement changes that improved process performance.
Findings from these projects will be disseminated through journal publications and presentations at professional meetings/conferences. Specifically, the projects conducted within Portuguese organizations will be targeted for publication as action research case examples. In addition, a cross case study is publication is planned.
My grant was originally scheduled for mid-April to mid-July 2021, but it was rescheduled to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To make the most of my time at ISCTE-IUL, I met regularly with students and colleagues involved in our company projects, visited the sites of the projects to meet with management and tour the facilities, and I gave a seminar at ISCTE-IUL entitled “Data – Guilty Until Proven Innocent.”
On the professional side, during my Fulbright I made excellent relationships with colleagues that will last for a long time, and the experience of working with a new group of colleagues and students reinvigorated my research stream. I’m grateful that our work is planned to continue virtually for at least 1 year once I’ve returned to the U.S. In addition, this provided me with direct experience of working with companies in a different culture and how business is run differently than in the U.S. Given that most of my work has been applied research with industry partners in the U.S., this was an eye-opening experience.
On a personal note, it was amazing to have the opportunity to travel throughout Portugal with my husband to meet people, learn first-hand about the culture, and, of course, get to taste all the delicious Portuguese food and wine. When we tell people the list of all the places we visited, they would tell us that we’ve likely seen more of Portugal than most people from Portugal!